Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rice & Beans Book Club at La Casa Azul Bookstore

Más de un año atrás me integré al grupo de lecturas RICE AND BEANS BOOKCLUB, auspiciado tan gentilmente por La Casa Azul Bookstore, en el corazón de El Barrio. Como bien dice el lema el alimento del alma son los libros y que mejor acompañamiento para  ese arroz con habichuelas que una buena discusión.

Como el arroz y habichuelas puede ser acompañado con una variedad de carnes y vegetales, sin olvidarnos de un buen traguito, así nuestro grupo de lecturas contiene una variedad de libros para todos los gustos, desde la indispensable ficción hasta memorias y libros relacionados a nuestra experiencia latina tanto aquí como en NUESTRA AMERICA, como acertadamente la llamó José Martí.

Nuestro grupo es tan variado como las lecturas que  hemos seleccionado. Como ese arroz y habichuelas lo combinamos con un buen pernil, churrasco o cualquier variedad de pollo que creamos en nuestros países, las discusiones pueden ser dulces, picantes, con mucha sazón pero siempre sabrosas. Desde los clásicos latinoamericanos hasta los escritores más jóvenes, desde los que escriben en español o en inglés  disfrutamos de toda una variedad de gustos. Tenemos el cuidado de que los libros estén disponibles en ambos idiomas, así el lector puede escoger el que se le haga más cómodo para leer. Eso también ha facilitado que como en una buena cena los comensales sean tan variados como la comida. Lectores jóvenes o maduritos, todos nos nutrimos con nuestras aportaciones.

2014 book club titles

Las discusiones no son académicas, parten más bien de una franca conversación y conexión a nuestro diario vivir. Con gran respeto exponemos nuestras opiniones, dudas y deseos de entender la lectura y disfrutarla viendo las perspectivas de cada uno. Esas lecturas nos llevan a explorar otros libros y autores, o conocer mejor al que hemos leído por lo que la conveniencia de reunirnos en este inspirador lugar, LA CASA AZUL BOOKSTORE, y  con la ayuda y gentileza su personal, se facilita encontrar esa lectura deseada y continuar las nuevas combinaciones a nuestro arroz y habichuelas.

Les invito que disfrutar de una buena cena para el alma, a disfrutar de una variedad de lecturas que complacerán su paladar, añadan un nuevo sabor a nuestras discusiones y nútranse la mente con hermosas historias que no solo abren nuestra imaginación, afirman nuestro orgullo latino y nos ensena que hay más cosas que nos unen de la que nos separen.

Acompáñenos todos los primeros miércolesde mes, en un ambiente extraordinario, de un lugar que se ha convertido en un centro cultural y conocimiento, LA CASA AZUL BOOKSTORE, para disfrutar de una exquisita cena, les prometo que tendrán un buen provecho.

- Lourdes
Coordinadora  de Rice and Beans Book Club

This is a list of the book club meeting dates and titles for 2014:

  • So Far From God by Ana Castillo -- Wednesday May 7, 2014
  • Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood by Sandra Ramos O'BrianWednesday June 4, 2014
  • Song of the Water Saints by Nelly Rosario -- Wednesday July 2, 2014
  • Ruins by Achy Obejas -- Wednesday August 6, 2014
  • Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado -- Wednesday  September 3, 2014
  • Nilda by Nicholasa Mohr -- Wednesday October 1, 2014
  • Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya  -- Wednesday November 5, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hidden gems: Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/ Book Day; El día del niño/ El día del libro by Pat Mora

Happy Tuesday everyone! It is the beginning of exciting week here at your local neighborhood bookstore as we get ready for this Saturday. What is happening this Saturday you ask? We are having our 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s Book Festival, celebrating El día del niño/ El día del libro. In a prelude to this magnificent annual event we will be reviewing Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/ Book Day; El día del niño/ El día del libro by Pat Mora, illustrated Rafael Lopez.

In Book Fiesta! we see the many places and ways that books can be read. From a hot air balloon to the mouth of a whale, reading with our friends or our pets or even to the moon, Pat Mora demonstrates in her book what the pure essence of book joy. Paired with bright and colorful illustrations by Rafael Lopez, this book is essential for anyone who wants to give a child a book that demonstrates the amazing joyful experience that occurs when we read.

Think this is a great book? Make sure to keep an eye for it and other great finds in our children’s section. 

Don’t forget to check out our 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s Book Festival this Saturday from 11am to 4pm with readings by Sonia Manzano, Carla Torres, John Parra, Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor as well as presentations by Acopladitos and Fraternidad Cultural Pasion Boliviana.

- Galia, Schools Program Coordinator

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cuentos...discovering the Person Behind the Story: John Parra

April Spotlight on Children’s Book Illustrator John Parra

Welcome to our new blog series, Cuentos...discovering the Person Behind the Story. 
Each month we will feature one of our favorite children’s book author/illustrator.

We are kicking off the series with John Parra, an award-winning illustrator who brings to life the stories in the books Gracias/Thanks, Waiting for Biblioburro, My Name is Gabriela/ Me llamo Gabriela, P is for Piñata, When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders, Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes and his most recent book Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors.

If you are in New York – you can meet John at the 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s BookFestival!

John, of the books you have drawn, which do you reflect the most on? Why?
Each book project I have worked on holds special memories, many levels of enjoyment, and distinct concentration. However, there are times when I reflect on one particular book more than any other.

The book I seem to reflect on most frequently is, Waiting for the Biblioburro, a story inspired by the heroic efforts of an actual librarian Luis Soriano.  Mr. Soriano and his mobile library journey through the rural areas of Colombia, South America, to bring literacy and culture to the children who have no access to town libraries. I was immediately drawn to the delightful narrative as it was presented to me several years ago by its author Monica Brown. Her use of themes such as kindness, sacrifice, determination, humor, empowerment, and beauty captures the true journey and heart of a hero and a dedicated teacher. I am also drawn to and feel proud of the many art illustration spreads created for the book.
Pages I created like The Imagination Tree and Ana and the Butterfly I feel capture and create a sense of wonder as well as joy to compliment the words of the story and its ideas.  I know that through learning and creativity we solve issues as well as enhance our minds and souls.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Growing up I always loved creating art for no other reason than for the sheer joy of it. I did not know at the time that as I got older it would be a part of my professional life. I think the advice I would give to myself is one of direction and potential. Art is such a large field with many areas that a young artist can follow. There are fine artists, commercial artists, children’s book artists, mural artists, graphic artists, editorial artist, and on and on. To understand where to put my energies took time. I do remember the exact moment I found out what kind of artist I wanted to become though. It all clicked one day when a visiting professional illustrator came to visit my art class in junior college and showed us his work.  I recognized his work immediately and like a light bulb turning on in my head, I felt a sense of excitement and empowered that this is what I wanted to do too. So much of where I am today was in thanks to other professional artists taking the time to spend on talking to a young art student such as myself.

What three children’s books, other than your own, would you name as must reads? Why?

What? Only three? This is more than difficult; it is impossible because there are so, so many.  Let me give you just a few to wet your appetite:

a)     Pedro, The Angel of Olvera Street, by Leo Politi
b)    Frida, by Jonah Winter & Ana Juan
c)     The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton.
Extras Bonus Selections:
d)    Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
e)     Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales
f)     Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez

Finally John, what are three places you would suggest children/families visit when in your hometown?

I live in New York now but I grew up in Southern California, such as Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Diego. If I could recommend three places for families to visit it would be:

a) The Santa Barbara Zoo, on Child’s Estate that sits on a beautiful little hill next to the Pacific Ocean.  The zoo has a great little selection of animals such as monkeys, birds, lions, giraffes and elephants.  And above all do ride the train around the park grounds, though the stately Eucalyptus trees, animal exhibits, and adjacent lagoon that is remarkable and just lovely to see.
b)The Beach. Especially Malibu and Santa Monica for the boardwalk, Leo Carrillo, Torrey Pines, La Jolla are all great stops along the Pacific Coast.
c) Balboa Park in San Diego that has many museums and activities all centrally located and all breathtaking and memorable for all ages.

We want to thank John Parra for his participation in our Cuentos segment! 
If you want to find out more about him please visit his website.

If you are in New York – you can meet John at  the 4th Annual East Harlem Children’s BookFestival!
Saturday April 26th
11:00am – 4:00pm 
Free event, rain or shine! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Internship opportunities at La Casa Azul Bookstore! (Summer 2014)

La Casa Azul Bookstore is currently looking for a few good interns who wish to learn the ins and outs of running a business while enriching lives through reading, writing, and the power of books!
All internships are unpaid, but there are a number of great perks, including free books, flexible hours, fun-loving co-workers, and more. Most importantly, you will learn the ins and outs of working at both a bookstore, and a locally-owned, independent business. Plus, it will earn you a number of professional contacts, and looks great on a resume!

The internships last for 12-16 weeks (longer internships available) and interns work 12-20 hours/week.

Summer internship is June 1, 2014 – September August 31, 2014. Opportunities are available for high school seniors, undergraduate, graduate students and recent graduates who are considering careers in the arts, education, business, marketing and publishing. College credit may be arranged.

Deadline to submit internship applications for Summer 2014 is Friday May 2, 2014 at 6pm.
Email: lucha.libros[at]

Desired qualities/skills for ALL interns:

  • Dynamic, self-motivated, outgoing, highly organized individual with good research skills, including exceptional written and verbal communication skills, and capacity for working with diverse populations.
  • Ease with technology is a must, including knowledge of MS Excel, Word, and social media (Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter).
  • Bilingual (English & Spanish proficiency).
  • Must bring your own laptop or tablet to work

ALL applicants must submit:

1. Creative cover letter

2. Resume (with 2 references)

3. Answer to question: Why are you interested in an internship at La Casa Azul Bookstore (1 page max, separate from cover letter)

4. Schedule information (days/hours available from Tuesday – Sunday between the hours of 12pm – 8pm)

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· Assist before, during, and after in-store and off-site events.

· Arrange for any necessary audio-visual equipment setup prior to the event

· Formulate text for all Social Media web sites (Twitter, Facebook etc.)

· Other tasks as assigned

Hours: 16-20 hours per week

Events Intern must be available 2:00pm - 8:00pm (Wednesday – Saturday) and 1:00pm-6:00pm on Sundays

Email: lucha.libros[at]

Subject line: EVENTS INTERN (Summer 2014)

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The School Programs Intern will assist with the development and implementation of new outreach strategies to teachers, principals, parents/parent coordinators and education-oriented organizations.

Tasks will include conducting the summer storytime programming as well as scheduling summer school/educational visits, updating educator card membership database and other projects as assigned.

Desired skills: 
  • The ideal candidate has an interest in education, the New York City Public School system and the arts. Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills, be social and outgoing, have the ability to prioritize responsibilities, and work well both independently and within a team.
  • Strong organizational skills are necessary, as well as knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook).

Hours: 16 - 20 hours per week

School Programs Intern must be available 11:00am – 6:00pm (Tuesday – Saturday)

Email: lucha.libros[at]

Subject line: SCHOOL PROGRAMS INTERN (Summer 2014)

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Assist in Marketing/Public Relations for store events.

Requirement: must demonstrate proficiency in social media platforms.

Tasks may include but are not limited to: assisting with the promotion of various events, and a variety of in-house communications, processing and archiving media coverage; developing relationships with local and national journalists; and offering creative input in developing pitches.
Additional support with marketing initiatives as needed.

Hours: 8-12 hours per week

Marketing Intern must be available 12:00pm – 6:0pm (Tuesday – Saturday)

Email: lucha.libros[at]


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La Casa Azul Bookstore is seeking a video intern, with strong editing skills and a good eye for compelling visual storytelling. This unpaid, part-time internship provides an outstanding opportunity to gain video editing experience and build a strong portfolio.

Ideal for recent graduates, willing and eager to work in a fast paced environment and with an ability to work well with others.

Responsabilities include:

Organize and archive auvio-visual material; create short compelling videos of past events; create a Youtube channel; prepare all other video-related material for marketing purposes.


  • Candidates should have experience filming and editing footage, preferably for promotional purposes. Should be able to structure and coordinate work hours, have strong technical skills, and feel comfortable working independently under creative guidance
  • Passion for video production and impactful storytelling.
  • Experience editing with iMovie and Final Cut Pro (Adobe Premiere also acceptable. Photoshop and Illustrator skills a plus).
  • Candidates must have an Apple computer with Final Cut Pro installed (or other editing software).

Schedule: 8-12 hours per week; flexible to work with college schedules.
When applying, please include resume and work samples.

 Email: lucha.libros[at]
Subject line: VIDEO INTERN (Summer 2014)

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No incomplete applications will be considered.

Please do not contact the store with further questions or to inquire about selection.

Thank you!

La Casa Azul Bookstore